BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Steve Waithe, a former Northeastern track and field coach, was charged after allegedly tricking female student athletes into sending nude and semi-nude pictures to him.
Waithe, 28, also worked at other higher education schools such as Penn State University, Illinois Institute of Technology, University of Tennessee and Concordia University Chicago .
He was accused of scheming multiple women and cyberstalking at least one woman.
The Chicago native was employed as a track and field coach at Northeastern University from October 2018 to February 2019 until he was fired for “inappropriate conduct toward female student athletes.”.
At Northeastern, he would request to use female athletes' cellphones "under the pretense of filming their form at practice and at meets," according to the charging documents.
When using the athlete's phone, he was seen “scrolling through” it at times.
In February 2020, investigators stated that Waithe started a scheme to dupe women on Northeastern's track and field team to send him nude or semi-nude photos.
“Waithe contacted the alleged victims through social media accounts, stated that he had found compromising photos of them online and offered to 'help' get the photos removed from the internet,” Acting U.S. Attorney Nathaniel Mendell’s office said in a statement.
It is believed that he would tell the women that he could "reverse image searches" if they sent additional nude or semi-nude images.
Federal prosecutors stated that Waithe emailed over ten women about a fake study on body development, using "the personas of “Katie Janovich” and/or “Kathryn Svoboda.”
The "body development" study he created was a way to get student's height, weight, and diet habits.
He would send the students example images of "Katie," to illustrate the types of photos he was looking for.
"The emails also included a request for the victims to send photos of themselves in a “uniform or bathing suit to show as much skin as possible” and suggested that the photos would not be shared or saved," the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Investigators found over 300 related nude and seminude images of victims in Waithe’s email accounts.
They also said Waithe cyberstalked at least one woman at Northeastern from June 21, 2020 to Oct. 3, 2020 using social media, an anonymized phone number and Snapchat.
Authorities later found that his search history included phrases such as “Can anyone trace my fake Instagram account back to me?”
“Impacted students were provided with counseling and other resources. The university also contacted federal law enforcement officials and worked in full cooperation for the duration of the federal investigation,” Northeastern spokesperson Renata Nyul said in a statement Wednesday.
Waithe was arrested in Chicago, Illinois, where he currently resides. He make an initial appearance Wednesday afternoon in federal court in the Northern District of Illinois.
Officials said he will be expected in Boston at a later date.
If found guilty, Waithe could face up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud and an additional five years for cyberstalking.
The FBI of Boston said if anyone is believed to be a victim, to contact them.